Maggiano’s Little Italy

A visit to the free-standing castle-like edifice east of Crooks on Big Beaver Road offers some answers. One of 41 in a national chain, this upscale family restaurant is designed to look and feel like a venerable neighborhood institution, just as the original, which opened in Chicago in 1991, was designed to appear as if it had been a downtown destination since the 1930s. Many come for the family dinners ($24.95) that include two huge platters each from an encyclopedic selection of appetizers, salads, pastas, entrées and desserts. And virtually all of those who bravely confront the mounds of food will go home with sizeable doggie bags. The intelligent wine list, dominated by Italian, West Coast and Australian varietals, features several bottles for less than $30.

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